Choosing the right dog
Which dog would suit your lifestyle?
Deciding to get a pedigree puppy will give you an idea of a dog's characteristics and what he will look like as an adult, but with over 300 breeds to choose from making a decision won't be easy.
Most pedigree breeds were originally bred for a specific function, for example, hunting, guarding, or working livestock. Once you know the purpose of a breed you can get a better idea of its particular canine traits. For example, herding breeds like Border Collies can display obsessive chasing behaviours when excited, so may not be suitable for all owners. Dogs bred to relentlessly pursue scents (like Beagles) or track and flush out birds (like Spaniels), can also be deaf to any owner's command once their instincts kick in and once on a trail some can disappear for hours - or even days!
These groups are based on the UK Kennel Club. Some dog breeds may have different classifications in other countries.
Which dog breed is best for me?
Overall, you must respect the natural instincts of a breed, and take responsibility for a puppy of that breed. You must work hard to keep natural traits under control with appropriate socialisation, training and handling techniques.
Research different breeds to help you decide which kind of dog will suit your family best. Visit pedigree breed websites to see how breeds look as puppies but also how they will look and behave as mature dogs.
List breeds you like and visit shows to see the dogs for yourself. Most people are happy to talk about their dogs, and they may put you in touch with breeders and owners who you can chat to about all the pros and cons. You could also get in touch with your local training club and ask if you could watch some classes. As well as checking the club out for the days ahead when you are finally a proud owner, you could also meet other owners of the breeds you are interested in. You can also find out more by visiting Discover Dogs held in London each November, and in Birmingham, as part of Crufts, each March.
Dog breed downsides
Although you've probably already checked out points like size, grooming, exercise requirements and upkeep costs, you still need to do some more homework. Make sure you're acquainted with any negative issues that may relate to your chosen breed. Breed rescues are often a good source of information about any downside to a breed - they want to ensure that new owners are fully aware of any potential problems, in order to reduce the likelihood of yet further rehoming becoming necessary. Also make sure you've found out as much as possible about any health problems which can affect the breed, including inherited conditions. Only then, armed with all this information, are you ready to start looking for a reputable breeder. Be thorough - a breeder who seems nice, or a puppy accompanied by registration papers, is no guarantee of a healthy individual.
Kennel Club registered
If you're buying a pedigree puppy, do make sure you get his papers when you collect him, even though you may have no intention of showing him. It doesn't cost much for the breeder to register the pups and not doing so might be considered suspicious. Kennel Club registration should not, however, be considered a guarantee of quality or health, nor does it imply that the breeder is reputable or recommended - it simply shows that the puppy is a pure-bred.
Before you decide on a dog breed!
- It's easy to fall in love with a particular dog breed's looks, but it is vital not to choose a dog based on their looks alone. There are many Huskies in rescue centres because new owners do not fully understand the demands of such a working dog.
- Remember, dogs can live up to 15 years (some more!) - are you settled in life enough to take on a puppy?
- Think about your own lifestyle and what you are looking for in a dog - is it long walks in the country, or a companion to share the sofa with?
- What type of personality are you? Do you want a dog that will obey your every order, or would you rather have a dog that's a bit more challenging?!
- Don't always assume that dogs with higher intelligence are easier to train.